Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has said details of todays announcement of $435 million in the State Budget for the Gippsland line will be heavily scrutinised by regional commuters.
‘Details in this announcement are broad strokes at best and local commuters have been promised improvements before by Daniel Andrews,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘The duplication of track between Bunyip and Longwarry was committed to in 2014 by the Liberal National Coalition and it has taken Daniel Andrews three years to get on-board with the improvement.
‘Gippsland is growing at a rapid rate and this investment is long overdue from Daniel Andrews who has forgotten about all of Gippsland in his first two budgets and overseen and huge decline in employment through lazy policy for our region.
‘Local commuters will rightly be sceptical of this announcement and I await further detail about each project detailed, their cost and expected time for delivery.
‘The funding today, which has come entirely from the Federal Governments Asset Recycling Initiative, shows that even when Daniel Andrews does make an announcement for regional Victoria, he isn’t willing to put his hand in his own pocket to fund it,’ said Mr Blackwood.
Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the Gippsland Line improvements were just one issue with the regional network and the real delays for Gippsland commuters came in the metropolitan network.
‘All too frequently Gippsland VLine services are delayed due to congestion in the metropolitan network where Metro trains take priority over regional services,’ said Mr Northe.
‘This announcement provides duplication at some of our worst bottlenecks in Gippsland which Mr Blackwood and I have called on for years and committed to when in Government but more needs to be done to assist VLine trains in the metro region.
‘SkyRail continues to be touted by the Andrews Labor Government as the magical solution to congestion but there is not one metre of extra track in that project to assist VLine services or allow them to bypass often slow Metro services.
‘Labor has a history of announcing rail projects that either neglect the Gippsland region or fail deliver on their promise.
‘Gippsland commuters well remember the “Regional Fast Rail” project that promised to deliver services to Melbourne in 90 minutes and which clearly didn’t happen, and of course the Regional Rail Link project, which completely neglected the Gippsland region.
‘On top of this the Andrews Labor Government failed to honour substantial commitments made by the Coalition in 2014 to invest in Gippsland rail infrastructure and services.
‘No wonder commuters in the Gippsland region would remain cynical about announcements made by the Labor Government when it comes to Gippsland rail,’ Mr Northe said.